11/15/2001 AT 09:55 AM EST
Christopher Reeve joined some 1,000 friends and donors at the Waldorf Astoria in New York City Tuesday for "A Magical Evening: Discover the Magic," a black-tie fundraiser for the Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation. Helen Hunt hosted the event, which was attended by couples Kevin Bacon and Kyra Sedgwick and Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins, as well as Billy Baldwin, Denise Rich, Meryl Streep, Glenn Close and "The Sopranos' " Joe Pantoliano. "I'm here because Christopher Reeve is a beloved friend of mine, and I swore when he had his accident that I would do whatever he asked me to do to support him," said Close, who Reeve directed in the 1997 TV movie In the Gloaming. Close stressed the importance of supporting the foundation post-Sept. 11, when so much charitable focus has been on the families of victims in New York. "I think we're all concerned that as horrible as the tragedy that we've all endured together is, that we don't lose track. There are incredibly important issues that we have to keep addressing and we have to keep supporting that really are a matter of life and death." Susan Sarandon added that continued charitable contributions by people after they've given so much in the wake of Sept. 11 says "a lot. People have given a lot and are still in a state of shock and mourning. So it's a testimony to how much everybody loves (Reeve) and are inspired by him that people have responded this way." Also on hand at the fundraiser was magician David Blaine, who Reeve used as a metaphor for the future of science. "We now need our scientists to make the kind of daring leaps that parallel what David Blaine does," Reeve said, "to use their skills and knowledge to make scientific steps forward that may seem as radical as freezing yourself in a block of ice." The foundation has raised $3.5 million so far, which will benefit research efforts toward finding a cure for paralysis caused by spinal cord injuries -- like the one Reeve suffered in a horseback-riding incident in 1995 -- and central nervous system disorders.